Q & A With Ron Mito

Posted on: Thursday, 07/26/2018

Question: You are an alumnus of the UCLA School of Dentistry. What does that mean to you, and what is your advice for recent D.D.S. graduates trying to build their career?

Answer: I have a tremendous sense of pride and respect for the education I received at UCLA and for the people who trained me. Dental school can be overwhelming, and there’s a tendency to be worn down by the process, so you may not fully appreciate the value of your education until you are practicing and treating patients. Rigor can be mistaken for obstacles, but it exists to ensure the quality of education, safety, and compliance. Also, you should plan to continually learn and retrain yourself throughout your career. 

Q: You have been a faculty member at the dental school for 40+ years. What do you feel has been your most impactful work? 

A: Being able to mentor students has by far been the most fun and fulfilling part of my tenure. Students have a hunger for knowledge and experiences, and they sincerely want to help patients. Students, in general, have a bigger vision than just doing dental treatment. They want to impact the people they touch and most of them want to give back in some way.

Q: How do you deal with difficult decisions?

A: My advice is to take the emotion out of a situation. When you are faced with a difficult situation, you need to slow down, be contemplative, and ‘think grey.’ Be deliberative and make a decision based on facts and hearing all sides of a story. It’s rare that any decision needs to be made today.

Q: What are some of your life mottos that have helped you succeed?

A: Don’t rush to judgement about people. Learn to understand the other person’s perspective. It’s okay to agree to disagree. It’s not about winning, it’s about making a good decision.

Q: How long has the road been to the Dean’s Suite?

A: I never had that on my road map or a desire to be in the Dean’s Suite. As mentors, you must reach out to quality people and encourage them to take on new responsibilities. It’s a professional responsibility for leaders to cultivate future leaders, whether or not they are seeking it. I’ve always been lucky to have people ask me to be in leadership positions. It goes back to those sentinel events where you have to pick a road. As Ron’s father would always say, “when given a choice, pick”.

Q: There is currently a scholarship campaign being established to honor your dedication to the betterment of UCLA Dentistry, which will award student dentists who display excellence in professionalism, leadership, and service. What does this mean to you?

A: When I learned that Dr. Joan Otomo-Corgel, my UCLA classmate and friend, agreed to champion a scholarship in my honor, I was in total shock. What a surprise to learn of this effort, which includes support from Dean Paul Krebsbach, as well as committee members Drs. Carol Bibb, Tom Rauth, Steve Okamoto and Mitra Simanian. I have tried to be a role model for students in professionalism, leadership, and service and having a scholarship named after me that recognizes these qualities is absolutely my greatest professional recognition.